Greece wants a deal on debt relief with its euro zone creditors in February to remove financial uncertainty and spur economic recovery, its finance minister said, but eurozone officials said that timetable was very ambitious and likely to slip.
Addressing a conference of investors, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said on Monday that making the ailing euro zone country's debt sustainable was the key to liberating the economy and restoring confidence among depositors and companies.
"If we don't make the critical decision in let's say February 2016, and we push the critical decision back to next summer or even 2017, then all the results will be delayed," Tsakalotos told the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.
Euro zone creditors have said they are willing to consider a debt rescheduling but only once Athens successfully completes a first review of its bailout programme, which requires the adoption of a further set of contentious reforms.
Weeks of delays in completing the first batch, which was less challenging politically, suggested the second set would take even longer. A February deadline for a debt deal was therefore very ambitious, euro zone officials said. [...]
The European Commission's mission chief to Greece, Declan Costello, told the conference the EU wanted all these reforms to be wrapped up by early next year to pave the way for the start of debt relief talks. But the pace of progress depended on the Greek government and lawmakers, he said.
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